Taxpayer-Backed Yet Cash-Poor A123 Stock Hits All-Time Low

A123 logoA week and a half ago cash-poor A123 Systems, recipient of $279 million-plus in federal money and millions more from the State of Michigan, announced it would access $39 million via a stock sale to institutional investors and the release of other cash after meeting requirements related to its existing reserves.

It has been downhill ever since – all the way down to its all-time low of 75 cents per share price Tuesday (and 69 cents Thursday morning). It may be too much for even these masters of the press release cycle to overcome by creating good news out of thin air.

A123 is in the throes of a deathwatch. Occasionally its leadership has goosed its stock price by telling the media about real-or-phantom positive developments – like new contracts with automakers, new developments in China and India, or a technological breakthrough – but every time the … Read More ➡

Jim Rogers and Duke Energy Face Music Over Merger Power Grab

white Coke canThe tempest that followed the “boardroom coup” after Duke Energy’s merger with Progress Energy, in which former Progress CEO Bill Johnson was dismissed in favor of Duke CEO James Rogers, has only worsened since the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the deal last week.

Rogers testified before the NCUC on Tuesday, after the directors of the newly combined Duke jettisoned Johnson just hours after the regulatory approval, even though both companies asserted beforehand – ever since the expected deal was announced last year – that he would lead the united company, while Rogers moved up to chairman. Utilities commissioners, former Progress directors who approved the merger, and the public were deceived into believing Johnson would oversee day-to-day operations.

“Have we as the commission been misled or, as others have said, duped in this process to get approval of this merger?” Commissioner Susan Rabon asked. “I hope you … Read More ➡

Jim Rogers’s Power Grab Underscores Politicization of Duke Energy

Jim Rogers and windmill photoAfter a lengthy process that overcame a demanding review at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and two rejections by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy won approval to merge with the Tar Heel State’s other major investor-owned utility, Progress Energy.

Then Duke’s board immediately pulled a fast one and fired the man they said all along would be the joint entity’s CEO, Bill Johnson, who would have continued from the same role he had with Progress. Instead leading the new combined company will be Duke’s current CEO, James Rogers. Throughout the merger approval process everyone understood he would abdicate that role to Johnson while remaining as company chairman.

The NCUC and state attorney general, Roy Cooper, were shocked by the move and are not pleased. Even less happy are many (now) former directors for Progress, who told the media last week that they never … Read More ➡

GE Solar Delay Shows Timing Will Never Be Good

solar panelsWe’ve heard this story before.

Much like taxpayer-backed Abound Solar – which just revealed it would declare bankruptcyGeneral Electric announced last week it would suspend construction of a solar panel manufacturing plant in Colorado. The excuse given was that GE plans to focus on research and development to improve the technology and efficiency of the panels it wants to produce.

“With the re-focus on technology, we’re sizing our team accordingly and really focusing our people on the technology side as we take this pause in the manufacturing build-out,” said Lindsay Theile, communications leader for GE’s renewable energy business, to the Web site Recharge.

That’s what officials at Abound said in February when the company – also based in the Centennial State – lopped off 70 percent of its employees while it allegedly performed upgrades to its plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels. That move followed an … Read More ➡

EPA’s Regional Administrators Love Activism, Litigation

armendarizThe suspicions of Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe were correct: Rather than sitting before the House Energy and Commerce Committee three weeks ago to explain the ways he “crucified” oil and natural gas companies, instead Al Armendariz – who cancelled his appearance at the last minute – met with the Sierra Club for a job interview.

This time the recently resigned EPA’s Region 6 administrator will eagerly attack another fossil fuel, joining the litigious environmental group as part of its “Beyond Coal” campaign. If there was any question that Armendariz unfairly regulated the gas and oil businesses under his authority in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and other neighboring states, the Sierra Club announcement left no doubt.

“I know how important it is to transition to cleaner sources of energy that don’t pollute the air that our children breathe,” he said, “and I’m proud to be working on a campaign with … Read More ➡

Yet Another DOE Green Failure as Abound Solar Goes Bankrupt

Abound logoThe next time a green energy company announces it is intentionally slowing down for a transition phase, or that a technology breakthrough is just around the corner, or that all that’s needed for future success is just a little more taxpayer “investment” – don’t believe it. It’s likely a lie.

The latest example is Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar, which only four months ago laid off 70 percent of its employees in what it said was a plan to upgrade its plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels, with plans to restore production levels and rehire most employees within six to nine months. Yesterday – hidden under the news that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare – the company released a statement that said it would end operations next week, liquidate, and make unemployed its remaining 125 workers.

The Department of Energy had awarded Abound a $400 million loan guarantee, $70 … Read More ➡

Nissan: Taxpayer Money Needed for Expensive Electric Cars

Ghosn photoHighlighting that electric vehicles are no more than a scheme to extract money from taxpayers rather than sell a viable product, the producer of a dismal-(but still highest) selling all-electric car in the U.S. confirmed they wouldn’t exist at all without government.

Francois Bancon, Nissan’s global general manager of product strategy and planning, could not have been more clear in a discussion with the media at the Australia launch of the all-electric Leaf. In the U.S., taxpayers are backing a $1.4 billion loan guarantee for Nissan to retrofit a Tennessee manufacturing plant to produce the Leaf.

“Yeah, [government support] is the key,” Bancon said in an interview reported by Web site Car Advice. “This technology is expensive; the car is expensive.

“Where we sell the best is where the governments offer their support…which is not only the incentive for the direct purchase, but also they are investing … Read More ➡

Fisker’s Capital Fundraiser Loses $4.5 Million Case, Is Reportedly Removed

Fisker logo

The top private equity raiser for troubled electric automaker Fisker Automotive, which has been the subject of investigations by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission, has reportedly removed its co-founder and CEO. 

Crain’s Chicago Business, citing “a company insider,” reported Friday that Advanced Equities Inc. has reached an agreement with Dwight Badger for him to leave the investment firm. The separation follows a demand by a FINRA arbitration panel for Advanced Equities to pay $4.5 million to one of its former brokers, John Galinsky, over breach of contract claims. Galinsky brought his complaint against the firm, Badger, and his co-founding partner, Keith Daubenspeck.

“The panel finds that Respondents exhibited a reckless disregard for the warrant rights of the broker and breached their fiduciary duties to the broker,” the FINRA dispute resolution said.

Advanced Equities raised the financing for Fisker, which has boasted that … Read More ➡

EPA in a Bind Over Hazardous Experiments on Humans

Lisa Jackson

After experiments on humans were conducted that exposed them to airborne particulates considered to be lethal, a sound-science advocate has accused physician researchers working for the Environmental Protection Agency of misconduct and violations of the Hippocratic Oath.

Steve Milloy, publisher of Junkscience.com and author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them, filed a complaint with the North Carolina Medical Board last week that accused three doctors in the state – two employed by EPA (Dr. Andrew Ghio and Dr. Wayne Cascio) and one by the University of North Carolina (Dr. Eugene Chung) – of intentionally exposing test subjects to inhalable pollutants that the agency considers both cancer- and death-causing.

“During these experiments, the study subjects were intentionally exposed to airborne fine particulate matter (“PM2.5”) at levels ranging from 41.54 micrograms per cubic meter to 750.83 micrograms … Read More ➡

A123’s ‘Positive Developments’ Are All Too Predictable

A123 logo

This story has been updated at the end.

Seems like every time stimulus recipient battery-maker A123 Systems suffers bad news or a stock price hit, its leaders miraculously produce great news via press release that temporarily bumps shares higher.

The latest example came yesterday, when A123 announced a “technological breakthrough” called Nanophosphate EXT that officials claim would reduce or eliminate the need for cooling systems for overheating batteries, and lower the cost of electric vehicle batteries by $600. This followed news that A123 plans to hire 400 employees (125 were laid off in November) in the coming months, thanks to new contracts it has won. Apparently Wall Street was unjustifiably non-skeptical, as heavily subsidized A123 saw its stock price shoot up from $1.04 to $1.58 yesterday. A123 was given $249.1 million in stimulus funds to help launch two battery-manufacturing plants in Michigan, and also received grants and tax credits from … Read More ➡

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